103, and counting. That is the number of communities in Canada which have passed the Blue Dot municipal environmental rights declaration.
This is the belief in and recognition of our right to clean water, clean air, and clean food. Over 80,000 Canadians from Victoria British Columbia to Yellowknife Northwest Territories to Windsor Ontario are joining in with Blue Dot, a multi-year grassroots campaign, to ask that the government respect our rights to a healthy environment and to protect them for now and for posterity.
What is the declaration?
|I BELIEVE EVERY CANADIAN DESERVES THE RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT.
I am standing with Canadians across our country who are asking all levels of government to recognize our right to breathe fresh air, drink clean water and eat healthy food.
History shows that the greatest changes start with simple acts of local leadership.
That is why I am calling upon my community to recognize its citizens’ right to a healthy environment.
This right includes: breathing clean air, drinking clean water, consuming safe food accessing nature knowing about pollutants released into the local environment and participating in government decisions that will affect the environment.
The plan is for individuals to stand together and ask for their rights to be recognized and for neighbourhoods to sign municipal declarations and city by city, we can effect change on the provincial level and bring in environmental bills of rights, with the ultimate goal of federal legislative changes and amendments of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
People -> Neighbours -> Cities -> Provinces -> Country
The first to join the movement was Richmond British Columbia in 2014 and the 100th was Toronto Ontario on December 9 2015.
Things are only impossible until someone decides that they aren’t.
More than 110 countries already recognize this right, their citizens’ rights but surprisingly, not Canada. Costa Rica, Norway, and other countries see it as a fundamental right, along with the right to vote. But not Canada. Not yet.
Many Canadians would be surprised to learn that their Constitution does not include their right to a healthy environment.
Around the world, Canada may be seen as a leader in social justice and environmental rights but the truth is that 1 in 2 Canadians live in an unsafe environment with air pollution. We have done a lot in the past – we stopped dams and logging but here we are again, the same battles. Yes, when it comes to the environment, Canadians are vocal but many projects get into the pipeline and even get going with little or no oversight to prevent environmental damage. (watch the video with David Suzuki for more details).
Did you know that Canada has no safety regulations for drinking water on the national level? Or that the costs of pollution each year are more than $100 billion?
Canadians’ right to a healthy environment is not a new idea and the lack of protection as an obstacle was recognized by Prime Minister Laurier’s Commission on Conservation in 1912. 100+ years ago.
This change – the protection of every Canadian’s right to clean water and air and healthy food – may seem an impossibility but it is not. At one time, there was a head tax on Chinese immigrants women could not vote. Over 80% of Canadians already believe in their right to a healthy environment. Now it is about building awareness around the need to have this right spelled out in our Constitution and garner support to get a majority interest to effect that change. When we come together, from coast to coast, we build a groundswell and a movement to demand that our rights be respected and protected and to strengthen these laws. What is in place now, on the provincial level, lacks legal legs and so these nationally-held values must to be reflected in the constitution to have any meaning and sustenance.
It does not take extraordinary people to make the extraordinary happen. It takes ordinary people – like you and me – to decide “today is the day.”
Canada’s treasures – aside from the people – are her resources and enforceable environmental rights protection and laws need to be in place. The right to a healthy environment is a human right. It is time that Canada lives up to her reputation as a champion of human rights.
For more information – check out the Organizer ToolKit for Blue Dot , a project of the David Suzuki Foundation.